The answer to modern day stress isn’t always as simple as taking time off work and kicking back on a secluded white sandy beach.
In the “age of over-information,” frantic lifestyles, and jam-packed calendars, the quantification of our thoughts via wearable technology is proving to be a powerful solution towards better well-being.
Muse: Do More with Your Mind & More with Your Life
Using EEG technology, which hospitals and clinics have operated for over a century, Muse passively detects changes in your brain from sensors placed gently on the forehead—essentially measuring its electrical activity.
In a medical setting, an EEG test requires affixing sensors to your head which are then routed to a computer via wires. Muse, however, has developed an easy-to-use, wireless smartphone application that monitors output and provides real-time feedback of your brain activity through audio cues.
Credit: Jon Ham - www.fitnessontherun.com
What Action Can This Data Provide?
Studies show that mindfulness exercises similar to those found in the Muse application can cause the brain to literally change itself; making it more resistant to distractions. Muse claims to make this process more motivating, fun, and efficient.
Respond To Stress Rather Than React
In just a few weeks, this type of training has been shown to trigger the natural relaxation response—a state of deep rest that changes the physiological and emotional responses to stressors. Through regular use, your metabolism decreases and your heartbeat slows. Your muscles relax, breathing becomes slower, and blood pressure decreases. Imagine the positive impact this could bring when integrated into a box breathing technique.
Stress has been defined as a perceived lack of control or unpredictability, associated with impaired cognitive performance, higher blood pressure, lowered immunity, and many more negative effects. Muse strengthens the ability to regain the feeling of self-control, which counteracts stress.
The feedback algorithms are tailored to respond to both external and internal distractions through measuring:
- Delta waves which are most present during sleep.
- Theta waves which are associated with sleep, very deep relaxation, and visualization.
- Alpha waves which occur when relaxed and calm.
By learning how to manage and respond to emotionally-charged thoughts, Muse encourages improvement not only in your focus, but also in your self-awareness—the key character of emotional intelligence. This can lead to decreased emotional reactivity and increased positive emotion.
Driving New Habits
The first few days of building any new habit are difficult. There will naturally be resistance. Muse states that in just 3-5 minute sessions, over time you can dramatically reduce stress with mental exercises.
Our minds and bodies naturally revolt against change. Through consistent practice, you’ll be able to better adapt to the new behavior as momentum carries you forward.
When combined with smart phone applications like Equanimity, brain monitoring has the efficacy to coach your mind into synaptic bliss.
Intel recently published an article “How the Wave of Personal Health Data Can Help Heal the World” that states:
“Think of a quarterly visit to the doctor’s office to monitor a chronic condition, or monitoring a patient that might be recovering from a recent surgical procedure. If these patients can be evaluated continuously via wearables and other patient-generated data (surveys, vital signs measurement devices, etc.), not only can progress be tracked more effectively, but scarce healthcare resources can be applied where they are needed most.”
With effective digital health tools for a better world, consumers become more empowered to make positive changes in brain health.
That’s what I call smart thinking.
About the author: Josh Trent, NASM-CES, CPT, HLC, is a corrective exercise specialist and participatory sports technology expert with over 9 years in the fitness industry. His passion is to accelerate wellness evolution through the power of the Digital Health and Quantified Self movements. You can follow him on Twitter @wellnessforce, or through his website www.wellnessforce.com.
The nuviun blog is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.